The Citadel of Qaitbay in Alexandria is one of the most important fortifications in Egypt. It was constructed by Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay to defend Egypt against the Ottomans/Turks.
Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay:
Qaitbay was born in 1416 in the Caucasus, in the region of the Black Sea. Due to his skills, he was bought by a slave merchant who brought him to Cairo. Sultan Barsbay of Egypt bought him and made him a member of the palace guards.
Sultan Jaqmag, the successor of Barsbay freed him when he knew Qaitbay’s noble descendant. Then he appointed him the third executive secretary. Later, Qaitbay was appointed field marshal of the entire Mamluk army. Qaitbay was entitled sultan in 1468, and ruled for about 29 years.
Citadel of Qaitbay in Alexandria:
Qaitbay built lots of forts and citadels along the Mediterranean coast to defend Egypt against any foreign invasions. Qaitbay’s Citadel in Alexandria is located on the northern tip of Pharos Island. It was constructed exactly on the site of the famous Light House of Alexandria (one of the seven ancient wonders).
Just a few years after he was appointed sultan, Qaitbay started a great project constructing some defensive strongholds along the Mediterranean coast to defend Egypt against the Ottomans/Turks. The citadel functioned the whole time along since its time of construction till the time of the British colony in 1882, then it was neglected.
The construction of the citadel started in 882 A.H/1478 AD and finished in 884 A.H/1480 AD. The citadel was well maintained due to its strategic location.
Sultan Al-Guri (1501-1516) provided the citadel with different weapons and equipment. He decreed to forbid weapons to be taken out of the citadel due to the approach of the Ottomans/Turks.
Ottomans/Turks also used the citadel as a shelter as they did with almost all of the other citadels in Egypt. They maintained it with infantry, masons, carpenters, artillery, etc.
The citadel fell into the hands of the French soldiers in 1797 led by Napoleon Bonaparte. Mohamed Ali Pasha (1805-1849) restored the citadel and maintained it with modern weapons. Then, the citadel was neglected when the British colonized Egypt in 1882.
King Faruq turned the citadel into a royal rest house. In 1925, the citadel was converted into Maritime Museum. It is a tourist spot since 1984. Now, the citadel is under the supervision of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.